Here is the low down from Elisha Israel a.k.a. Sacral Crown and MindFlip Records founder, who just organized a 25 city tour.
You have several original music productions as Sacral Crown – what is your musical process and what tools do you use?
I’ve been making music since I was 17, when I was gifted my first guitar. I focused on hip hop and MC’ed for about five years, learning a lot about basic audio and recording. I then refocused on production, diving into Logic Pro X and soon after, started the Sacral Crown project.
I have a very quick workflow, diving into sessions and doing my best to finish them while still in the original headspace, which often results in completing projects during the session I started them in. I don’t worry too much about making ‘good’ music. My personal goal is to make music that I enjoy listening to. I find this mentality creates a low stress workflow that allows me to create without the nagging doubt that comes along with having an extended relationship with each project.
As the lead organizer of a 25 city tour, what promo strategy did you use?
I’ve been organizing small scale events on and off for the past four or five years. One of the things I noticed was how little impact flyers actually have. In addition, even when flyers are impactful, they are guaranteed to end up in a landfill.
Considering how comfortable many of us have become with social media, I decided to experiment with a zero waste promotion strategy. The strategy is built upon social media street teams in conjunction with a hired local promoter, trading entry to the event for genuine engagement on social media. The team is recruited by the local promoter, creating a highly localized and targeted audience. The strategy was designed to work in Facebook. Facebook is the most restrictive social network on market due to it’s paywalls (sponsored posts + algorithms). There’s space for an in depth conversation about net neutrality and the ethics of how Facebook interrupts mass commerce and visibility for their own profit. Anyways, the strategy is proven to work in Facebook, meaning that it will work when bridged over to other networks since other networks don’t have the same paywalls and algorithms that Facebook does.
How did you manage the financial overhead and how do the artists get paid?
The tour was designed to be really inexpensive. The only upfront cost was $350 (graphic design [artwork + logo]). After that, there were minimal financial commitments with the venues we worked with. These included door deals (percentage of proceeds) and occasionally small rental fees. We, as a tour, were responsible to pay those at the end of each night. Each artist, the local promoter and the VJ received an equal share of proceeds at the end of each gig. Live artists and vendors were allowed to vend free of charge. Sometimes it worked well, sometimes it didn’t.
The project was debt free at the end of the tour although I do wish I was able to pay each artist more. I did notice a direct correlation between the cities where the promo strategy was well executed and where there was a distinct lack of activity from the hired local promoter.
You pulled this off with no agent, no manager, and a minimal budget. Describe your model for promo/booking? Did “paywalls” on larger social media sites limit your ability? Was all communication done via email – how did that work for you?
Well, I was sitting at home one day staring at Facebook and I realized that I was connected with some of the most vibrant creators, many of who I had never met personally. I put up a post in a group that has a high standard for original productions and asked who wanted to tour. The response was overwhelming. At that moment, I was all in. My dad always taught me to finish what I start.
After that, there were many many conversations on Facebook with individuals, most of whom I had never met or talked to before, dialing in the details for the tour. Most of the tour promotion was within the framework of Facebook, other than a little on Soundcloud. I wanted to limit promo to Facebook so that I could demonstrate that we could achieve the needed visibility within Facebook’s restrictive framework. This decision led to the creation of social media street teams.
Whenever the strategy was properly executed, we achieved the needed visibility and had fiscally comfortable nights. I’m curious to see what will happen to the visibility for this project once I find individuals who are highly enthusiastic about using the ‘controlled open source’ of the brand on other platforms.
MindFlip Records is an “open source brand”. What’s up with that?
To start, MindFlip Records isn’t fully open source. That would require giving away access to any individual and allowing them to use however they please. I’m a bit uncomfortable with that. Currently MindFlip Records is a controlled open source of the brand. This means two things. First, there’s a basic framework that has two simple rules and second, there is an approval process for involved parties.
The approval process is simple. An individual has to be highly skilled at what they do and have a record of consistent, self-motivated work in their process. If this is you, please contact us. The framework is quite simple as well. Once given access to the social media, MindFlip Records asks that users do not buy sponsored posts. In addition, MindFlip Records asks that any real world usage of the brand requires approval, otherwise, said usage will be vetoed. Beyond that, there’s tons of flexibility. I highly encourage organizers to use the brand (with approval) in creative ways, ranging from workshops, community action, events, art shows, vendor fairs and more. I highly encourage content creators to publish their personal creative content through our feed(s) and to develop their own strategies so we can combine forces to help each creative in the way that’s best for them.
The goal is to create visibility. As of right now, it’s incredibly difficult to achieve visibility because creatives have their own micro corner of the internet where a random observer has to find the corner, be somewhat intrigued by the idea, like the page and then have it algorithmically buried unless they choose to aggressively interact with the presence.
Getting all the content on one feed/page etc. will be helpful because it makes it easier to find unique and original content on the Internet! This will be especially true once the project scales up to millions of likes built on fully organic growth.
So how does MindFlip Records grow?
Simple. Get involved! Send out a mass invite, tell your friends, engage on social media. All the content is posted by the creatives themselves so by supporting us, you get access to a growing network of creatives and can support them.
I have no personal limit on the scale of this project. I want it to scale up to a maximal size. We’ll (you, me, everyone) figure it out as we go along. Let’s use this project to help our friends achieve their personal goals.
Wanna join? >>>>>> firstname.lastname@example.org
Eating right while on tour is especially difficult, so let’s talk about food and diet – how does that impact your health?
I’ve been on the road since March 1st and am just starting to settle back into a more relaxed and grounded flow health wise. I’ve been vegetarian for 2+ years, although I cheat with dairy and eggs.
The most important thing is eating clean, healthy food. Bringing a cooler while on tour is essential, if able. Load the cooler up with greens, fruit and smoothies. In addition, dry food such as granola, trail mix and breakfast bars are all relatively easy ways to balance out a diet. This was my first time touring at this scale and I ate at restaurants way too much, which definitely impacted my personal health and budget. Take the time to stop at good grocery stores when available. It’s better for the body and mind long term.
For my personal diet when off the road, it’s really quite simple. Lots of greens (spinach, kale, broccoli), potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, apples, oranges, berries (blueberries specifically), oats, trail mix. That combo right there is ideal. Oats with apples and berries for breakfast, a small salad and/or banana and/or smoothie for lunch and then an early dinner with lots of greens, using the potatoes and/or sweet potatoes to trick my body into feeling ‘full’. I do my best to view food for the nutrients it provides over the aesthetic or pleasure it provides. Still learning every day and I’d love to chat with my friends who have a more developed understanding so that I can have a more well rounded diet!
It’s also really important to remember to jump up and down, do some pushups/stretches and to dial in the breathe every once in a while. We’ve each been given the gift of a body and I feel an inherent responsibility to honor this gift better than I have. As a former cigarette smoker and drinker, I feel that learning to settle into my body’s rhythms and needs, guided by my breath, has been extremely helpful and one of my greatest teachers. I’m still very much so a work in progress. Grateful.
You’re known for excitement about a 100% renewable future with clean food for everyone – please elaborate?
Well, those are both huge conversations that each deserve their own thought, although most permaculture experts would (rightly so) state that they go hand in hand.
In terms of a 100% renewable future.. Our planet has been dependent upon fossil fuels for thousands of years. Each of us owe a debt of gratitude to Mama Gaia for taking care of us for so long. Over the past 200 years (since the Industrial Revolution), our usage of fossil fuels has expanded to a point where we are directly harming our planet by using these fuels as energy sources. In addition, due to our perceived need for these energy sources, we, as a planet, have been unkind and abusive to many of our neighbors on this planet, simply so we can have more and more fossil fuels. This mentality needs to end and I’m proud that myself and many other educated individuals are having this conversation relentlessly.
The vision of a fully renewable future is very close. Personally I’m excited to dive into the future of a world where we create our power in highly localized, grid supported frameworks, where each home creates its own power due to the design of the home. I’m excited to see less gas generators at parties and less gas cars on the road. I’m excited about renewable plastics. I’m excited to end the dependence on oil/fossil fuels and become an example and guide for our future.
How does this start?
Get involved! Research your own power/fuel usage and minimize it as much as possible. Start searching for ways to diversify where the power is sourced from. Find ways to create your own energy (safely). You’ll be amazed at how much information is readily available online.
In terms of clean food, it’s important for us to work to eliminate food deserts. A food desert is an area where there aren’t options for high quality, clean (chemical-free) food. Oftentimes, food deserts are found in lower income and/or minority areas or in extremely rural areas.
On a personal level, the first step is educating ourselves on what nutrients, we, as humans, need to survive. There’s extensive research available – it’s a matter of getting that information into our classrooms, lunchrooms and grocery stores. www.nutritionfacts.org is a great resource. Once we start to hone in our personal practice, we are able to share it with our friends and extended community.
Compassion and community are two consistent themes in my life nowadays. How can we develop a compassionate, community minded future for ourselves, our friends, our neighbors, our cities and countries? How can we develop a holistic and balanced approach to our medicine, our food, our energy, our conflicts? What can we do, on a local level, in our day to day life, to start creating this future for ourselves? It’s about a lot more than music, you know.
We’re a family, all of us. We might argue now and then but at the end of the day, we’re here for each other. I am here for you. If you have ideas about ways to create our future, get in touch. Or don’t. Get involved in whatever way you see fit! Be you, be the awesome, amazing and vibrant human being that you want to be! To quote a Snarky Puppy song, “free your dreams!”